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Archive for March, 2008

I move around the house like a ghost sometimes, and other times like a contestant on Survivor.  Can I outplay and outlast my ownself?  I guess we’ll see.   Last week when the house was a convalescent home for a dying dog, everything went upside down very fast.  I expected to spend this week not moving or doing anything.   Instead I push hard to be normal.  Today was three loads of laundry, a cassarole and toffee bars.  And it was the toffee bars that did it.

It goes like this, though, the way death sits with you like the hiccups.  You think it’s not bothering you anymore and you have moved past it, and then you start with a wee break and you’re gone again.   Those five stages of Elizabeth Kubler Ross are very neat and antiseptic and make you feel like you can spreadsheet the whole thing when your turn comes–and your turn is coming–but it doesn’t work like that.   There is no “Okay I had denial, now let’s bargain for awhile.”   After the first few days when you realise that nothing is quite the same you are sort of normalish and then angerbargainingdenialgrief  come burbling out at the oddest times.   No amount of scaring it away, of drinking water while standing on your head, makes it any easier.

You’re just there, in your kitchen making toffee bars and suddenly you remember that last time you did this he licked the bowl and your lower lip starts quivering, your lungs seize up, your hands lose their grip and you’re sitting on the kitchen floor wailing like a baby.   And then you get up, put the unlicked bowl to soak and move on until the next thing.

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The Memorial

I had always thought things like headstones were a bit of earthly nonsense, but after some wise person told me that it helps to plan some type of memorial I began turning the idea over in my mind.

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This is what I’ve settled on. It’s a Cobalt Celtic Urn Pendant. I decided on the Celtic Knotwork because it symbolises the entertwined nature of things and journey through eternity. The Cobalt Blue symbolises tears, but it also symbolises the river of life in Ezekiel 47:9

Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. … so where the river flows everything will live.

In the urn I plan to place a lock of Casey’s hair, a small amount of his ashes and one bud from Lily Of The Valley. Since I was born in May, that’s my birth month flower, and it has always been special to me. I had some in my bridal bouquet and sewn into my bridal headpiece. I have always had a sprig from my grandparents’ farm pressed in my Bible as a keepsake.

In legend the flower sprang from Mary’s tears at the cross where her son was crucified. Not that my dog is Jesus, but since I shed many tears over his death on Good Friday, I figured this was extra appropriate.

It’s also extra appropriate, because Lily of the Valley also signals the return to happiness. I believe that I’ll see Casey again, but I also believe I will know happiness again in this lifetime. The Lily of the Valley speaks to that hope.

All in all I think it’s a nice way to remember him fondly.

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Aftermath

Wherein I talk about grieving… The jump is there so you can skip reading yet another post about dogs and dying if you so choose.

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Various Silver Lining-y Thingies

  • All this is happening on 3/21–like a countdown! Weird but cool. Also, 21 is 7 x 3 so if you believe in the Holy numbers of Scripture that’s kind of a happy coincidence.
  • All this is happening on Good Friday, so while I’ll always remember the bad, it’s tied in with that good comfort of the day in general.
  • My brother Tom can always make me laugh
  • I have a lot of people around who understand and sympathise or empathise. I can never remember which one is grammatically correct.
  • Maybe this will spur me on to learn the difference between sympathy and empathy.
  • My friend Jill can always make me laugh.
  • My sister and parents will listen patiently to my tearful ramblings without hanging up or calling men with straightjackets.
  • My brother Dave cared enough about our grief to explain pet death to his (very) young children so they could pray for us.
  • Eating Cadbury Eggs while watching the Ten Commandments–the Easter tradition where I revert to a 9 year old–is right on schedule.
  • Lost was pretty good last night.
  • My sister was already scheduled to come down for Spring Break in a week. She’ll be good company for me, and her dog Sophie will be good company for Quinn. The break in our routine will be a healing distraction.
  • I have a really good excuse to watch Arrested Development DVDs and will have “Big Yellow Joint” running thru my head in no time.

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I told the folks on Twitter about our decision to euthanise Casey right after I hung up from the Vet. Something about typing an event makes it more grounded in my mind–a life lived on the keyboard, I reckon.

We’ll be taking him in on Saturday morning Friday evening. We’ve decided to leave him there and not be with him for the injection. I had always thought–until I read about the procedure’s nuts and bolts–that I’d hold my animal children as they passed away. However having read that they tend to groan, urinate and defecate as their muscles relax I decided that those dreams would haunt me forever and I couldn’t let that be my last memory. We’ve also decided to have him individually cremated so we can receive the ashes and sprinkle them under the weeping willow tree where he spent all his time (and once got sprayed by a skunk).

The call to the vet’s office where I discussed all this was quite possibly the grisliest conversation I’ve ever had with another human being. Not the vet’s fault–they were kind, understand and professional. I guess I’m just not accustomed to talking about what to do with earthly remains, etc.

In some ways the decision was a hard one to make, but I’ll be honest–I’m kind of relieved. I’ve known for 9 years this moment was coming, and now that it’s here I know it’s time. Casey has declined so rapidly that you can almost see him wasting away before your very eyes. By the time we made the decision this evening–8 hours after we left our vet with bottles of narcotic palliatives (for the dog) he was able to do little more than lift his head, whimper and cry. And that’s with a full load coursing through his system. There is no kindness in prolonging this.

As I told him an hour ago–there are many kinds of okay, and soon you will be the best kind of okay there is.

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Adversarius ultimus quod vincetur mors est

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well

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Adam’s Rib

There’s that part of the Genesis creation story where God takes a rib from Adam and around that rib fashions Eve.   That missing rib becomes a companion in conversation, exploration, sin and the eventual path to redemption.  Whether you hold that story as fact or allegorical myth, so much that is good springs from that missing rib, and so much that is painful about the human condition.   That missing rib is the gateway to more joy than Adam ever thought possible and the chasm of the greatest, bitterest tasting grief.

That rib was my first thought when I looked at my dog’s x-rays this morning.

His lowest distaff rib–the one on the left side, just like Adam–is missing.  Well, most of it anyway.   The part where it’s supposed to be right next to the spine just isn’t there.   According to the vet it’s either a genetic anomaly or more likely it’s been eaten away by a cancer that has now entered the dog’s spine.   We’ll know in a few days whether it’s the lady or the tiger–but things aren’t looking good.

That missing rib…

The Bible tells us over and again that God was grief-stricken when sin entered the world.  He loved mankind fiercely and terribly and that rot of sin just leaked in and stole his companions from him.  They were gone–disappeared in the sludge of dark lonely evil.  I am arrogant when I say that today I understand how God’s heart was so bitterly broken.   As I sit here and beg for the life of “just an animal” I realise a taste of why God sacrificed Himself to keep mankind close to him.   Compared to the infinite and wise we are so much dumb animals that would seem to be easily discarded.

While I sit here crying, bleeding my soul dry with salt and asking why me and how will I go on, the small voice I know to be God’s reminds me that it’s Maundy Thursday.   I’m having a strange communion with Jesus, understanding his tears on Gethsemene and why he drank from that cup that didn’t pass.

When people don’t understand my faith or believe it to be weakness this is the part they don’t see.   The part where, in the middle of the hot knife edge you never understand there is that small voice that whispers music to your soul and says “this is why and I AM.”

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Great things are happening in the tech world, starting right here in Nashville.

Founded in 1992, Nashville, Tennessee-based Griffin focused for years on Macintosh-related products before entering the iPod market in 2002. At that point, it burst onto the scene with various pocket-sized electronic attachments, subsequently releasing at least one—the seminal FM transmitter iTrip—you probably already know by name. The wild success of these small and frequently smart accessories enabled the company to expand into other categories, notably including both cases and speakers.

But the best part–the money shot–is this:

Without Griffin, it’s fair to say that the iPod wouldn’t be what it is today; given what it has accomplished, our hope is that the company has a more important role in where both the iPod and iPhone go next.

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